Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sketching - for fun and with a purpose

During my years as a tutor, I have been aware that many people actively avoid sketchbooks - perhaps they think of them as a waste of time.  Or, they don't have the time to bother with them.  Well, no matter whether you are a hobby painter, or someone wishing to make a career out of painting, using a sketchbook, in my opinion, is not just fun, but ESSENTIAL.

Do I hear you say "Oh Really?  WHY?"  (I bet some of you will)

Your sketchbook charts your progress. (I guarantee that the sketches at the end of a book are better than those at the beginning).  

It can record your thoughts - when you go back to look at a sketch, you will know exactly how you felt when you made it.  

It will help you to "see" better, and to translate what you see in our three dimensional world, into two dimensions on paper. You will be "exercising" your eyes and hands.  

 It is a place for practice.  It can be totally private.  It can be small enough to fit in your pocket, and carry at all times.

My sketchbooks serve three main purposes.

In them I...

  • make a record of what I see, for fun, for practice, for memories
  • make thumbnail sketches to try out compositions for paintings and finally
  • in the back pages, I make written notes of things I learn along the way, I put in quotes, titles of books, little notes to show, for example, how to construct something in perspective;  anything I might hear or see and feel could be useful.

My sketchbooks are the most wonderful journals.  They are trips down memory lane.  Not every sketch "works";  not every note is useful, doesn't matter a bit, my sketchbooks are part of me, of my life as an artist - a life which started quite "late" in life - the subject of another blog, methinks.  For now, let me just encourage you to go out, buy a few sketchbooks in different sizes, and make a pact with yourself to use them regularly - while waiting for a bus or train;  while sitting in waiting rooms or cafes;  when on holiday;  even while watching TV.    I will write more about materials to use in another blog very soon.  Here are a couple more sketchbook pics, "done for fun", and on location - the camel market was VERY smelly!


  1. For the longest time, I would draw carefully and work over every one of my sketches. I bought sketchbooks and only used the first few pages. I developed everything to a finished drawing. I envied artists who had good sketchbooks where every page was full of images far better than I could draw.

    The hardest time is when your sketches look like crud. If there's only one or two good drawings in a sketchbook, it's hard to motivate yourself. Keep it up and it starts getting good.

    My current sketchbooks are just as good as those I admired. I love yours, it's gorgeous. Now if I teach someone, I like to dig out some of my earlier ones to show them that yes, theirs will improve if they keep filling them.

    You're so right. The last drawing in any sketchbook is always so much better than the first! Date everything!

  2. I do sketchbooks! And they are so fun, I do need to work harder, and always have that thought! Can't wait for more from you. Your cmael looks wonderful, so squared-up in the hindquarters, soldid, and real. Did you sketch a box lightly for feet placement first?

  3. LOL What is it about the first page of a sketchbook??? I always want some smashing drawing there, to prove I can do it, I guess. I want people who open the book to be intrigued and blown away at the quality of what I've drawn. It's my vanity... so now I think in my next new sketchbook I'm going to put a note on page one advising the viewer to turn to the last completed page first! With a BIG ARROW------->

  4. thanks everyone for your comments, I hope to live up to expectations! Will do my best anyway.
    Ida......yes, I do make a note of where feet are when drawing something like this; I dont just look at the "edges" of any object to draw around it, I try to throw mental plumblines down the body to get correct placement of things in relation to other parts, if that makes sense.
    OK - subject of a blog post, thanks!

  5. While watching TV. Thank you, Jackie.


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